Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dear Matty: Private Idaho Edition

Rona Greenteeth is hard to find, but worth the Darkmoon Faire

Dear Matty:
This is a sticky social situation I have never learned how to deftly maneuver. We all know that sometimes there are awkward moments when it comes to RealID and Battletags, but how does one structure privacy in a guild situation? I was raised to be polite but have boundaries, and it seems in Azeroth, some of those boundaries get pushed. I need to know if I'm neurotic or right to want a certain level of personal privacy? For example, a casual WoW acquaintance has an alt in my guild, and now they're asking for cell phone numbers, email addresses, RealIDs, home phone numbers, blood type, and  favorite ice cream flavor. It's getting a bit pushy. I don't think this person has any malevolent motives, but I've had to try to gently push them off my proverbial front porch a few times. How can we players handle when someone tries to get closer to us than we would like?

Please advise - No-one's Home Night Elf

PS You'll notice there's no return address on this envelope, so I'll just look for your response via your site.

Dear No-One:

What first comes to mind is Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall," with the modern day proverb, "good fences make good neighbors." The poem is about boundaries, including those we respect, build, create, and those we want to tear down. This brave new world of Azeroth is like nothing we've experienced before though, and with all due respect to good sir Frost, those messages in pink can be as intrusive as an over-caffeinated Girl Scout on a three-day Thin Mint bender. You VILL pay for UR COOKieez NOW!

I must say I am in a similar situation from the other point-of-view: there are some in-game projects I would like to complete with a friend, and have no idea how to get in touch with them. I'm not even sure if this friend is going to come back. I think I may have an email or something around here somewhere, but what is truly stopping me is making them feel awkward by having to set up a boundary with ME. No one likes rejection, and you seem like a kind-hearted soul, and don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I do know this friend respects my privacy as I do, and I'll use the plural 'theirs" because I try to respect everyone's privacy, too. Maybe I'll just throw up the semiphorical battle-tag number and see if my signal is received.

This has got to be a tough one for bigger guilds, too, not just small ones. But I have often thought if anything happened to my friend Senor, and because we respect each other's real life spaces, how would I know? Maybe he can leave an "in case of emergency" envelope around for his family: To Whom It May Concern: Please contact this shaman in Azuremyst if I should fall into a coma." Yeah. That's not weird. And I'll tell CD Rogue: there's a mage friend of mine in Dalaran. If I get hit by a bus, would you please send him an in-game letter? Sure. Because you'll have nothing else on your mind.

So how about we players just make a social contract here and now? Guidelines, if you will:

1. If you have been friends with a player for over two years, all kidding aside, you may want to make that emergency envelope. They do care about you, and if something should happen, they would want to know.

2. No one except very close friends should have cell numbers. It is not up to anyone else but you to determine who is close enough for a cell or home phone. Things like g-mail accounts and Twitter work great to keep communication open but still maintain avatarial identities.

3. If you start to get weeks of  one word responses from a player, they are trying to let you down easy. Don't let it hurt your feelings--quite often it truly is a case of "it's not you, it's me." Really.

4. Logging on/off: I am terrible at saying goodbye sometimes, and just log. Just know it's so difficult for me to extricate myself from Azeroth that sometimes I just have to yank it off like a bandaid.

5. I'm pretty sure that if a guild is 'abandoned' for some period of time, others can take it over, so if someone does need to take over a guild, it's possible, and everyone can maintain their privacy.

My friends in Azeroth mean so much to me, but like you, I also like the delineation between "play time" and "real life time."

One last comment: How to handle chatting in the world is tricky, too. I have a few friends who I know I can say 'hey' to, ask a question, or just go off and do my own thing, and it never feels awkward or disappointing. Maybe cause they're just easy-going, confident folks. Don't ever feel guilty or apologize for doing in game what you want to do, and keeping those fences mended.

Private Idaho/B-52s


  1. And you know what's funny about me. My daughter calls me telephonically challenged and she's probably right. If someone had to get in touch with me their best bet would be email. I don't pay close attention to phone messages, lol.

    I do however obsessively check email around the clock. Maybe even more than my dog, but he does check his Facebook page a lot!

    1. Your dig deserves a million likes! I have a tough time balancing real v virtual communications...oh well; sometimes I just don't have that much to say. (Like that ever happens.)

  2. Anonymous4.3.13

    I never thought about that envelope thing...hmmm. As for boundaries, I have mine. Battletag. That's it. Everything else, i.e. gmail, skype, blog, twitter etc all are character-based names. There are two or three players I play with that I know IRL, and we all have the same rules, no real names, and no outside stuff in-game. It works for us.

    1. I think that's wise: make a policy, but make no apologies about having one. If the other person doesn't understand that's the culture of Azeroth - that's it's a game that means its real-life players need to keep their real lives private, oh well.


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